This is the strangest article I have ever read from modern times. Truly a must read!
Jurors deliberated for a little more than two hours.
As they discussed the trial, everyone appeared anxious for a decision, but could do nothing but wait.
Some went out for food, some smoked cigarettes, some got haircuts and others waited in the hot concourse of the Audrain County Courthouse rotunda.
Would they find Calvin Duane Pettey guilty in the shooting death of his fiance Sandra Fugate?
Would they find him not guilty and set him free?
Or would they be hung, unable to come to a unanimous decision?
Fugate’s family did what they could to let the time pass, but as the
afternoon lingered on, impatience began obvious.
Then the bailiff came out of the courtroom.
“C’mon in,” his voice echoed.
“Woo hoo,” one Fugate supporter said as she made her way back into the courtroom.
The moment they had been waiting for two years was finally here. The jury had a verdict.
Pettey was expressionless like he had been through most of the proceedings. His face displayed no emotion, he just watched and listened closely.
There was no legality speech, no dramatic pause. Just a quick read of the jury’s decision.
“We the jury find the defendant guilty,” Judge Keith Sutherland read in his attention-grabbing baritone.
Pettey stood still. He didn’t react. He didn’t even blink.
Meanwhile as the verdict was read, Fugate’s family and friends let out a unison sigh. They clung to each other and wiped away tears from their faces, which had turned red from immense emotion.
“It looked to me it was pretty cut and dry,” one of the male jurors, who asked not to be identified, said. “We didn’t feel there was that much (of a defense).”
Before he was escorted out by Audrain County deputies, Pettey’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27.
“Glad it’s over, she can rest. After two years of heartache and hurt, and confusion, and tears — there’s still going to be tears everyday — but at least we know those tears are that she’s at rest. She’s not hurt,” Fugate’s sister, Samantha Young, said. “I believe the judge, as well as everybody else, knew he was guilty. We’re just glad that the jury looked at the evidence and took it into consideration and made the right choice to not let him go for it to happen to somebody else.”
The verdict was bittersweet for one person in the courtroom. Pettey’s ex-wife, Kim Zumwalt, who sat behind the defense table with her husband and family the entire trial.
“We’re here for my sons Devon and Cole Pettey, and we were here for justice as well. Duane and I had always remained friends, even through my (new marriage) and we never had any problems. Sandy and I were good friends, in fact we were to attend the wedding. We were invited to the wedding from Sandy,” Zumwalt said. “It’s just sad. That’s not the man I knew, I was married to him for 12 years. I had to hear it for myself, but I had to hear it for my children. Because when is he going to get to explain it to them? Behind bars? They just couldn’t bear to see their dad.
“It’s been a two-year rollercoaster for us. They would set trial and it would get continued, and they’d set it again and it’d get continued again. I just want Mary (Patterson, Fugate’s mother) to know how sorry we are. As a mother, I can’t imagine how he feels, I just can’t,” Zumwalt said.
Awaiting Pettey at his sentencing hearing is a possible life sentence without parole.
“There’s really one possible sentence,” Marion County Prosecutor Tom Redington said. “Murder in the first-degree can have two possible sentences; life without parole or — if there are what are called aggravating factors — the death penalty. There are about 15 factors that are in Missouri law. None of them are present in this case, so this is not a death penalty case. There’s really only one option, and that’s life without parole.”
Fugate family members, and possibly friends, depending on what the judge allows, will be able to give their victim impact statements in court Aug. 27 as well.
“No matter what they sentence him to on Aug. 27, it’s not going to bring her back. That hurt and that void is always going to be there. Always,” Young said. “There’s not a person in Hannibal or anywhere surrounding Hannibal that can say one bad thing about my sister, but Duane or Rebecca (Kirk), and that was because they were both against her.”
Kirk, who testified and admitted to lying about having an affair with Pettey while he was engaged to Fugate, and the plot to kill her, had Young and her family members worried early on in the trial.
“The first day of the trial, I was sick to my stomach because I thought that it was all pointing to her and not him,” Young said. “And I was afraid it was going to be a he said, she said and they were both going to walk out that door. It was hearsay, and yeah, we knew she was involved, but after hearing the evidence it made her more involved.”
Public Defender Todd Schulze got Kirk to admit to false statements she had given in the past along with other things she had lied about, but Redington made sure the jury understood in closing statements that Kirk came out with the truth out of fear. But Schulze’s time on the floor with Kirk on the stand didn’t seem to impact the jury.
“You kind of felt like she got scared and started telling the truth,” the male juror said.
Nonetheless the verdict has been decided, the trial is over, and Calvin Duane Pettey is convicted. It was a verdict that now gives Fugate’s friends and family a reason to smile. And they feel Fugate is doing the same.
“She doesn’t want us hurting anymore. She doesn’t want us moping anymore. She wants us to carry on life as if she’s right by our side. She might not be here physically, but spiritually, she’s with every single one of us,” Young said. “She’s got her Bud Light and she’s even got a pack of cigarettes — even though she didn’t smoke — the only time she smoked was when she drank. And she’s got a cigarette lit up. The girls are out, and everybody that knew Sandy will know what that means.”
As for Kirk, she may not be out of the dark now that Pettey’s trial is over.
“Today is not Becky’s day in court,” Redington told the jury in his closing statement to the jury. “She will get her day in court.”
Kirk said she “destroyed evidence” and made several other admissions on the stand that link her to the planning of Fugate’s death.
When asked about what he meant in his closing, Redington said, “I’m not allowed to comment on possible criminal charges.”